Baldwin City girl found shot to death described as ‘sweet, intelligent, very kind’ eighth grader
photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World
Updated at 4 p.m. Dec. 6, 2022
A 13-year-old girl who was shot to death Monday at her rural Baldwin City home was being mourned by friends and family across the community who were grappling with the violence that ended the life of the Bishop Seabury Academy eighth grader.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office on Monday said that the girl, Hayden Koch, was one of two people found dead at the family home in the 700 block of East 1550 Road near Baldwin City. The sheriff’s office has released few details about the incident but said that the girl’s father was found dead at the scene — of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The father, David M. Koch, 55, was employed by the City of Lawrence and worked as a maintenance worker and welder in its Municipal Services & Operations division.
Bishop Seabury Head of School Don Schawang confirmed Tuesday that Hayden was a student at the academy and said he was appreciative of Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center in Lawrence and counselors from the Kansas Suicide Prevention Headquarters. He said that though Hayden’s death was not a suicide, counselors with the KSPHQ are particularly skilled at dealing with schools and students after this type of incident.
“She was a sweet, intelligent, very kind, very funny student,” Schawang said of Hayden.
Schawang offered his condolences to the family and said that administrators and counselors were trying to provide a stable and supportive environment for grieving students and staff.
The Baldwin City school district said in a letter to Baldwin City families on Monday that Hayden was a former student of Baldwin City schools until the fifth grade, when she transferred to the private Bishop Seabury Academy in Lawrence. The letter encouraged students and staff affected by the tragic incident to reach out to school administrators.
On Tuesday afternoon, Baldwin City Superintendent Mark Dodge told the Journal-World that the district had grief counselors available and had also connected with the neighboring Wellsville school district for additional counselors, if needed. The employee assistance plan was available to staff and teachers who had taught or worked with Hayden, he said.
Dodge didn’t know Hayden personally but said he had heard that she was “a caring and kind student with many friends.”
Five weeks ago, in the Oct. 31 edition of The Chronicle, the student news site of Bishop Seabury, Hayden talked about how she was excited for Halloween and that no one should be considered too old to dress up and trick-or-treat. “Everyone needs to go trick-or-treating — free candy,” Hayden said, adding that “Everyone is gonna be a ‘Stranger Things’ character.”
The Journal-World reached out to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Tuesday for additional updates about the investigation, but the office said, “The news release from last night (Monday) with those preliminary details would be all we have to say at this point, as it is an ongoing investigation.”
The sheriff’s office did clarify later Tuesday that based “on the evidence and information we have gained to this point, our investigation has changed from criminal in nature to more of fact finding.”
The sheriff’s news release Monday morning indicated that deputies were investigating a shooting southeast of Lawrence just after 7 a.m. Deputies had discovered two people inside the home who had died. The sheriff’s office said that there was “no additional threat associated with this incident.”
Monday evening, the sheriff’s office sent out another release identifying the deceased. That release said that deputies had spoken with the reporting party at the scene, who was uninjured. Initial information and evidence indicated that “Hayden died as the result of a gunshot wound and that David Koch died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” the release said.
“The Sheriff’s Office is with this family in this most horrific time of tragedy, and we hope for healing and peace as they work through what is the most painful time no family should have to endure,” Sheriff Jay Armbrister said.
According to a birth announcement that ran in the Journal-World, Hayden Dutch Koch was born on Jan. 6, 2009, in Overland Park, to Sarajane and Mark Koch, of Baldwin City.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.